Scota, Queen of the Gadelians (Fictitious Person)

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Scota אחרון מלכי יהודה, Queen of the Gadelians

Italian: Scota Re di Giuda, Queen of the Gadelians
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Egypt
Death: Died in Ireland
Place of Burial: Ireland
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Nactabaeus, Pharaoh of Egypt (Fictitious Person)
Wife of Milesius Galamh King of Ireland, King of Braganza, Spain
Mother of Ír mac Míl Espáine, 1st High King of Ireland; Heber Finn, High King of Ireland; Érimón mac Míl Espáine, 2nd High King of Ireland; Fial nic Miled; Dill nic Mil and 4 others

Occupation: Princess of Egypt, eponym of SCOTS,
Managed by: Gwyneth McNeil
Last Updated:

About Scota, Queen of the Gadelians (Fictitious Person)

Namesake for Scotland. Killed in battle over Ireland. Her grave is shown even today where she was buried near the sea.

She is a legendary figure from whom the Scots took their name. She is said to have been the daughter of an unnamed Eyptian pharaoh. The context of her story shows that the Irish thought of her as a daughter of the pharaoh of the Exodus and a contemporary of Moses.

There are two different versions of her place in the genealogy. She was the wife either of Gaodhal Glas or of his descendant Míl Espáine.

An 11th century rescension of the Historia Brittonum mentions Scota. She also appears in the Book of Leinster, a 12th century redaction of the Lebor Gabála Érenn, where she married Geytholos (Gaodhal Glas). The earliest Scottish sources claim Geytholos was "a certain king of the countries of Greece, Neolus, or Heolaus, by name", while the Leinster redaction of the Lebor Gabála Érenn calls him a Scythian.

In variant manuscripts of the Lebor Gabála Érenn, her husband was Míl Espáine.

Faced with the discrepancy, modern genealogists have created two Scotas.

There are many guesses about her father, Scota the wife of Gaodhal Glas being (perhaps) daughter of the mythical Pharaoh Cingeris, and Scota the wife of Míl Espáine being (perhaps) daughter of the mythical Pharaoh Nactabaeus. Both pharaohs are named only in medieval Irish sources, not in Egyptian sources. Some modern genealogists have speculated that Nactabaeus might have been Necho I or Necho II.

Later, her story became attached to the story of the Stone of Scone. It was she who brought it from Egypt to Scotland (Baldred Bisset, Processus, 1301).


Queen Scota of Ireland

It gives us great pleasure to welcome Ms. Susan Abernethy, manager of The Freelance History Writer, to Ancient History Encyclopedia as our first guest blogger. AHE’s “AHEtc. blog” will function as a place where ideas and experiences can be shared casually by those interested in all things “ancient.” We hope you enjoy it!

An ardent, lifelong passion for history compelled me recently to start researching and writing on various historical topics. Curiosity, along with the presence of certain books in my library, led me to look into the history of Scotland. Scottish history is chock full of fascinating stories and quaint legends. Surprisingly, I discovered that the founding, mythical ancestor of the Scottish people was a woman named Scota, daughter of an Egyptian pharaoh and wife of a Greek prince, whose story may be based on actual events as borne out by DNA evidence.

Legend and Sources: Medieval Documents

I like to think there is always a kernel or more of truth to some legends. Before there were written records, oral tradition was the primary means of handing down history. The story of Scota was brought to us through oral history, and nowadays there are scientific methods that can actually prove that there is some truth in the legend.

There were some enterprising Scottish historians in the 14th and 15th centuries CE who recorded their version of the history of the early Scots. John of Fordun (1360-c. 1384 CE), a prominent Scottish chronicler and member of the secular clergy, wrote the Chronicles of the Scottish People from 1363 to 1385 CE. The following century, Walter Bower (c. 1385-1445 CE) wrote his chronicle, Scotichronicon, beginning in 1440 CE, which expanded the scope of Fordun’s work. One version of the legend of Scota comes from these works, based on oral traditions and earlier sources that probably no longer exist.

The Story of Scota

The tale begins with a Greek prince named Gaythelos, who is called “Goídel Glas” by Bower. As happens quite often in history, the royal prince was not given any position of power by his father. Gaythelos, being angry about this, caused much destruction and trouble in his father’s kingdom, even going so far as gathering his own army. His father forced Gaythelos into exile.

Gaythelos sailed across the Mediterranean to Egypt where the Pharaoh Chencres was in a struggle to drive the Ethiopians out of his lands. The Ethiopians had a powerful kingdom to the south and at various times had ruled parts of Egypt. Gaythelos joined his army with that of the Pharaoh during the fight, and together they pushed the Ethiopians out of Egypt. At the end of these hostilities, Gaythelos formed another alliance with Chencres to help keep the Children of Israel in bondage. In recognition of Gaythelos’ loyalty, bravery, and strength, Chencres gave Gaythelos his daughter Scota in marriage.

The Scotichronicon goes on to tell us that Chencres was the pharaoh who died when the Red Sea parted as he was chasing the Children of Israel. The people of Egypt were looking for reform and saw the death of the pharaoh as their opportunity to make changes. Gaythelos was viewed as a continuation of the status quo, and after a period of civil unrest, Gaythelos was again driven into exile.

The army and people that went into exile with Gaythelos proclaimed him their king and called themselves “Scots” after their queen; however, there was no kingdom to rule. They wandered the desert for years before Gaythelos took his family and his tribe of Scots and sailed from the African continent to the Iberian Peninsula (present-day Spain and Portugal). There, they settled in the northwest corner of the peninsula at a place called Brigancia. The Romans later called this city “Brigantium,” and it is now the city of A Coruña, located in the autonomous province of Galicia, Spain.

Scota gave birth to a son named Hyber; it is said the old name for Ireland, “Hibernia,” comes from this son. The descendants of the Scots tribe lived on the Iberian Peninsula for several generations in a state of perpetual war with the local Iberian tribes. Eventually, some members of the tribe sailed across the Cantabrian Sea — the Bay of Biscay — in search of a new place to live, and settled in Ireland. Some of these settlers established a home in Scotland in the area that comprises contemporary Argyll. After the time of the Romans, the people in this area were called the “Scotti” and ultimately the name of the country to the north of Britain became “Scotland.”

There is another version of the legend in the Irish record called the “Leabhar Gabhála” or the “Book of Invasions.” This chronicle was written by monks in Ireland in the late 11th century CE to rationalize the existence of Gaels in Ireland. In this version of the legend, the ultimate ancestor of the Gaels was a Scythian king named Fennius Farsa. Scythia was located north of the Black Sea in what is now the eastern Ukraine. For unknown reasons, Farsa lost his throne and escaped to Egypt. His son, Nial, married the daughter of the pharaoh and had a son named Goidel. This family refused to participate in the persecution of the Children of Israel and was banished from Egypt, wandering throughout northern Africa. Eventually they sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar and settled in Iberia.

Among the descendants of Farsa was a man named Mil — also known as Milesius and “Míle Easpain” or “the Soldier of Spain.” Mil’s nephew had been killed in Ireland by the Tuatha Dé Danaan, the previous occupiers of the island, and Mils departed Spain on an expedition to avenge this death, bringing his wife Scota with him. Tragically, both Mil and Scota were killed in the fighting leaving their three sons — Eber, Eremon and Amairgen — to complete the conquest of Ireland. The Gaels considered Scota to be their ancestral mother and called themselves the “Scots” for this reason.

Scientific Evidence and Legend Confirmation

Regardless of these different versions of the legend, there are similarities between them, the most obvious one being the voyage from Iberia to Ireland. In recent years, there have been significant advances in the science of DNA collection and analysis, which have allowed scholars to reevaluate ancient myths and legends. Dr. Bryan Sykes, among others, has specialized in the study of DNA and applied it to the history of the human race.

Dr. Sykes is the Chairman and Professor of Human Genetics at Oxford University in England, and since April 2000, he has utilized his laboratory to explore the genetic roots of the people of the British Isles and Japan. He discovered DNA could be categorized into seven basic groups, and these seven groups he hypothesized to be from seven ancestral women. He calls these women the “Seven Daughters of Eve”: He has named these clan mothers Helena, Tara, Jasmine, Xenia, Velda, Katherine, and Ursula. Sykes found that 95% of Europeans could be traced back to these ancient clan mothers, and through mutations, determined these women lived anywhere from 45,000 to 17,000 years ago.

In tracking the clan mother’s DNA, it was verified that the ancestors of the Irish came from the Iberian Peninsula. There was also a direct correlation of similar DNA among men in Ireland and surveys of Y-chromosomes among the Basques of Northeastern Spain and the people of Galicia in Northwestern Spain and Northern Portugal. The male Y-chromosome evidence found by Sykes also determined that the Irish Gaelic tribes first journeyed to the Argyll area of Scotland. There seems to have been a gradual colonization of the western part of Scotland from the Irish kingdom of Dál Riata during the first half of the first millennium CE, which had a tremendous cultural and political impact. So the kernel of truth in the legends of Scota and the people of her tribe is confirmed by scientific evidence.

Scotland’s Stone of Destiny

There is one other angle to the story of Scota to consider regarding the Scottish people, and that is the story of the “Stone of Destiny,” also known as “Lia Fail” in Gaelic or the “Stone of Scone” in English. The stone has been used in the crowning of Scottish kings throughout history. The existence and origins of the stone are shrouded in mystery, legend, and mythology that have biblical roots.

The Story of Scota

The tale begins with a Greek prince named Gaythelos, who is called “Goídel Glas” by Bower. As happens quite often in history, the royal prince was not given any position of power by his father. Gaythelos, being angry about this, caused much destruction and trouble in his father’s kingdom, even going so far as gathering his own army. His father forced Gaythelos into exile.

Gaythelos sailed across the Mediterranean to Egypt where the Pharaoh Chencres was in a struggle to drive the Ethiopians out of his lands. The Ethiopians had a powerful kingdom to the south and at various times had ruled parts of Egypt. Gaythelos joined his army with that of the Pharaoh during the fight, and together they pushed the Ethiopians out of Egypt. At the end of these hostilities, Gaythelos formed another alliance with Chencres to help keep the Children of Israel in bondage. In recognition of Gaythelos’ loyalty, bravery, and strength, Chencres gave Gaythelos his daughter Scota in marriage.

The Scotichronicon goes on to tell us that Chencres was the pharaoh who died when the Red Sea parted as he was chasing the Children of Israel. The people of Egypt were looking for reform and saw the death of the pharaoh as their opportunity to make changes. Gaythelos was viewed as a continuation of the status quo, and after a period of civil unrest, Gaythelos was again driven into exile.

The army and people that went into exile with Gaythelos proclaimed him their king and called themselves “Scots” after their queen; however, there was no kingdom to rule. They wandered the desert for years before Gaythelos took his family and his tribe of Scots and sailed from the African continent to the Iberian Peninsula (present-day Spain and Portugal). There, they settled in the northwest corner of the peninsula at a place called Brigancia. The Romans later called this city “Brigantium,” and it is now the city of A Coruña, located in the autonomous province of Galicia, Spain.

Scota gave birth to a son named Hyber; it is said the old name for Ireland, “Hibernia,” comes from this son. The descendants of the Scots tribe lived on the Iberian Peninsula for several generations in a state of perpetual war with the local Iberian tribes. Eventually, some members of the tribe sailed across the Cantabrian Sea — the Bay of Biscay — in search of a new place to live, and settled in Ireland. Some of these settlers established a home in Scotland in the area that comprises contemporary Argyll. After the time of the Romans, the people in this area were called the “Scotti” and ultimately the name of the country to the north of Britain became “Scotland.”

There is another version of the legend in the Irish record called the “Leabhar Gabhála” or the “Book of Invasions.” This chronicle was written by monks in Ireland in the late 11th century CE to rationalize the existence of Gaels in Ireland. In this version of the legend, the ultimate ancestor of the Gaels was a Scythian king named Fennius Farsa. Scythia was located north of the Black Sea in what is now the eastern Ukraine. For unknown reasons, Farsa lost his throne and escaped to Egypt. His son, Nial, married the daughter of the pharaoh and had a son named Goidel. This family refused to participate in the persecution of the Children of Israel and was banished from Egypt, wandering throughout northern Africa. Eventually they sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar and settled in Iberia.

Among the descendants of Farsa was a man named Mil — also known as Milesius and “Míle Easpain” or “the Soldier of Spain.” Mil’s nephew had been killed in Ireland by the Tuatha Dé Danaan, the previous occupiers of the island, and Mils departed Spain on an expedition to avenge this death, bringing his wife Scota with him. Tragically, both Mil and Scota were killed in the fighting leaving their three sons — Eber, Eremon and Amairgen — to complete the conquest of Ireland. The Gaels considered Scota to be their ancestral mother and called themselves the “Scots” for this reason.

Scientific Evidence and Legend Confirmation

Regardless of these different versions of the legend, there are similarities between them, the most obvious one being the voyage from Iberia to Ireland. In recent years, there have been significant advances in the science of DNA collection and analysis, which have allowed scholars to reevaluate ancient myths and legends. Dr. Bryan Sykes, among others, has specialized in the study of DNA and applied it to the history of the human race.

Dr. Sykes is the Chairman and Professor of Human Genetics at Oxford University in England, and since April 2000, he has utilized his laboratory to explore the genetic roots of the people of the British Isles and Japan. He discovered DNA could be categorized into seven basic groups, and these seven groups he hypothesized to be from seven ancestral women. He calls these women the “Seven Daughters of Eve”: He has named these clan mothers Helena, Tara, Jasmine, Xenia, Velda, Katherine, and Ursula. Sykes found that 95% of Europeans could be traced back to these ancient clan mothers, and through mutations, determined these women lived anywhere from 45,000 to 17,000 years ago.

In tracking the clan mother’s DNA, it was verified that the ancestors of the Irish came from the Iberian Peninsula. There was also a direct correlation of similar DNA among men in Ireland and surveys of Y-chromosomes among the Basques of Northeastern Spain and the people of Galicia in Northwestern Spain and Northern Portugal. The male Y-chromosome evidence found by Sykes also determined that the Irish Gaelic tribes first journeyed to the Argyll area of Scotland. There seems to have been a gradual colonization of the western part of Scotland from the Irish kingdom of Dál Riata during the first half of the first millennium CE, which had a tremendous cultural and political impact. So the kernel of truth in the legends of Scota and the people of her tribe is confirmed by scientific evidence.

Scotland’s Stone of Destiny

There is one other angle to the story of Scota to consider regarding the Scottish people, and that is the story of the “Stone of Destiny,” also known as “Lia Fail” in Gaelic or the “Stone of Scone” in English. The stone has been used in the crowning of Scottish kings throughout history. The existence and origins of the stone are shrouded in mystery, legend, and mythology that have biblical roots.

Another name for the stone is “Jacob’s Pillow”; supposedly, it was used as a pillow by Jacob when he had a dream of angels. This stone somehow came into the possession of Gaythelos, and when he was exiled from Egypt, he took the stone on his long journey to Iberia. Ultimately the descendants of Gaythelos and Scota took the stone to Ireland, where it was established as a seat or throne in Tara. The stone was brought to Scotland from Ireland by King Fergus c. 498 CE, and he was crowned on the stone. There is a story of how the Irish monk and missionary Saint Columba brought the stone to the Isle of Iona in the 6th century CE. The 9th century CE saw Kenneth MacAlpin (r. 841 or 843-858 or 859 CE) bring the stone to the sacred locale of Scone, where he was crowned upon it. From that point on, all the Scottish kings were crowned on the stone at Scone until 1286 CE.

In 1286 CE, Alexander III of Scotland (r. 1249-1286 CE) died, leaving an infant granddaughter as his successor. She was known as Margaret the “Maid of Norway” and it was agreed by the Scottish nobles that she would be their queen. However, on her voyage from Norway to Scotland, she unfortunately died at the age of seven. There were thirteen claimants to the throne, and the Scots asked Edward I of England (r. 1272-1307 CE) to act as mediator. A Scots noble, John Baliol, was chosen and crowned at Scone, but many Scots resented Edward’s interference in their government, and Baliol began an alliance with the French in 1296 CE and fought against the English. Baliol lost a critical battle at Dunbar in April 1296 CE.

As the victor, Edward I annexed Scotland to England and placed the Scots under military occupation. He also seized the honors of Scotland, along with the Stone of Scone, and brought it to Westminster Abbey. He built a chair, known as “St. Edward’s Chair” or the “Coronation Chair” with a slot underneath to hold the Stone. Thus, when the kings of England were crowned on the chair, it signified that they ruled Scotland as well.

Some doubt exists regarding the actual stone captured by Edward I. There is a theory suggesting the monks at Scone Palace hid the real Stone in the River Tay or buried it on Dunsinane Hill and fooled the English troops into taking a substitute. If the monks did hide the Stone, it was so well hidden that no one knows what actually happened to it. No other stone matching the existing description has been found. The stone Edward I did seize has been analyzed and found to be of red sandstone quarried near Scone.

The legend connecting Scota to the Stone of Destiny did not appear in written records until the early 14th century CE, in order to increase the significance of the Scottish people’s history. In 1996, an agreement was made to return the Stone to Scotland, and in November of that year there was a ceremony at the border of Scotland and England, transferring the Stone. It now resides in Edinburgh Castle with the rest of the Honors of Scotland. A replica of the Stone can be seen at Scone.

Image Credits:

1. Scota and Gaedel Glas in a 15th century manuscript of Bower’s Scotichronicon. This file is in the public domain.

2. Replica of the Stone of Scone at the original location at Scone Palace, Scotland. This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Image credit: Bubobubo2, June 2009.

Sources:

Walter Bower, “Scotichronicon,” ed. D.E.R. Watt and others, 9 volumes (2987-1998). “Women of Scotland” by David R. Ross. “Saxons, Vikings, and Celts” by Bryan Sykes. “The Makers of Scotland: Picts, Romans, Gaels and Vikings” by Tim Clarkson. Ms. Susan Abernethy has always loved history. At the age of fourteen, she watched “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” on TV and was enthralled. Truth seemed much more strange than fiction. She started reading about Henry VIII susanprofileand then branched out into many types of history. She pursued her passion for history in college, and has remained a lifelong student of European history. Susan’s blog, The Freelance History Writer, is now a contributor to the following websites: Medievalists.net, Historical Honey, Early Modern England, and Mittelalter Hypotheses — A German blog on the Middle Ages.

All images and videos featured in this post have been properly attributed to their respective owners. Unauthorized reproduction of text and images is prohibited. Ms. Karen Barrett-Wilt and Mr. James Blake Wiener were responsible for the editorial process. The views presented here are not necessarily those of the Ancient History Encyclopedia. All rights reserved. © AHE 2013. Please contact us for rights to republication.

http://www.africaresource.com/rasta/sesostris-the-great-the-egyptian-hercules/the-story-of-princess-scota-princess-meritaten-african-roots-of-ireland/

In 1955, archaeologist Dr. Sean O’Riordan of Trinity College, Dublin, made an interesting discovery during an excavation of the Mound of Hostages at Tara, site of ancient kingship of Ireland. Bronze Age skeletal remains were found of what has been argued to be a young prince, still wearing a rare necklace of faience beads, made from a paste of minerals and plant extracts that had been fired.

The skeleton was carbon dated to around 1350 BC. In 1956, J. F. Stone and L. C. Thomas reported that the faience beads were Egyptian: “In fact, when they were compared with Egyptian faience beads, they were found to be not only of identical manufacture but also of matching design.

The famous boy-king Tutankhamun was entombed around the same time as the Tara skeleton and the priceless golden collar around his mummy’s neck was inlayed with matching conical, blue-green faience beads”. An almost identical necklace was found in a Bronze Age burial mound at north Molton, Devon.

Lorraine Evans in her compelling book, Kingdom of the Ark, reveals archaeological connections between Egypt and Ireland. Evans argues that the connections between the two distant lands were plausible and there is archaeological evidence to support the theory.

In 1937 in North Ferriby, Yorkshire, the remains of an ancient boat were discovered. While thought to be a Viking longship at first, continued excavation produced additional ships, wrecked in a storm.

Further investigation showed that the boats were much older than Viking ships and were of a type found in the Mediterranean. It was concluded that these boats originated from 2000 years before the Viking age and were radiocarbon dated to around 1400 to 1350 BC.

Evans then makes connections to argue that these boats could originate from Egypt, as the timeframe fits the dating of the faience beads.

While investigating the origins of the people of Scotland in the Bower manuscript, the Scotichronicon, she discovers the story of Scota, the Egyptian princess and daughter of a pharaoh who fled from Egypt with her husband Gaythelos with a large following of people who arrive in a fleet of ships. They settled in Scotland for a while amongst the natives, until they were forced to leave and landed in Ireland, where they formed the Scotti, and their kings became the high kings of Ireland. In later centuries, they returned to Scotland, defeating the Picts, and giving Scotland its name.

{The Scotichronicon is a 15th-century chronicle by the Scottish historian Walter Bower. It is a continuation of John of Fordun’s earlier work Chronica Gentis Scotorum. The National Library of Scotland has called it “probably the most important mediaeval account of early Scottish history”, noting that it provides both a strong expression of national identity and a window into the world view of mediaeval commentators.}

Evans then posits the questions: Was the Tara necklace a gift from the Egyptians to a local chieftain after their arrival? Or was the Tara prince actually Egyptian himself? According to Bower’s manuscript, Scota’s descendants were the high kings of Ireland. In her quest to discover the true identity of ‘Scota,’ as it was not an Egyptian name, she finds within Bower’s manuscript that Scota’s father is actually named as being Achencres, a Greek version of an Egyptian name. In the work of Manetho, an Egyptian priest, Evans discovers the translation of the name—the pharaoh Achencres was none other than Akhenaten, who reigned in the correct timeframe of 1350 BC. Evans believes that Scota was Meritaten, eldest daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.

Princess Meritaten

The third eldest daughter, Ankhesenpaaten, married her half-brother, King Tutankhamun, son of Akhenaten and his secondary wife, Kiya. The controversial religious shift to the god Aten caused conflict with the Amun priesthood, who reasserted their authority after Akhenaten’s reign ended and he disappeared from history. This conflict and the rumored deaths by plague would have been sufficient motivation for the pharaoh’s eldest daughter to accept a foreign prince in marriage, rather than being Tut’s wife as would have been normal protocol, and to flee from the conflicted country.

What happens to Scota and her people? For this, we must return again to the myths of the people inhabiting Ireland at the time, the Tuatha de Danaan, the magical children of the Goddess Danu: “It was they who originally established the site of Tara, in the Boyne river valley, as the ritual inauguration and burial place of the ancient kings of Ireland. They were generally regarded as the gods and goddesses of the Celtic tribes, but it is believed that their true origins date far back into prehistory”.

In the Annals of the Four Masters, dating to 1632-36, Scota’s husband is named Eremon, and it is Eremon and Eber who divide the land of Ireland between them, with Eremon in the north and Eber in the south. What is interesting to me about this version is the similarity between the division of Ireland and the division of Egypt itself. Egypt was divided into Upper and Lower Egypt, unified by a central connecting city, Memphis. If we consider the existing myths of Ireland’s legends, it, too, was divided to have a central site of unity, known as Mide, the omphalos of Ireland. Within Mide is where the Hill of Tara is situated, as a site of the High Kingship, representing the unity of the land and all of its people.

Sadly, it is in the battle for Ireland at Slieve Mish, as recorded in the Lebor Gabala, that Scota meets a tragic end and is killed. After her death in this battle, the war continued on at Tailtinn against the three kings of the Tuatha de Danaan, the husbands of the Goddesses Banba, Fodla, and Eriu: MacCuill, MacCeacht, and MacGreine. The sons of Mil, after prolonged battle, conquered the de Danaans and took the seat of Tara. According to the Bower manuscript, Scota was buried “between Sliab Mis and the sea,” and her grave, Fert Scota, is found in a glen located in Glenscota.

The exact location of Scota’s resting place remains a mystery, much like the particulars of her past, which are slowing being unveiled. As with many myths, a real person lent her persona and identity to the landscape of the land she became a part of, giving Scotland her name, giving the Celts an additional layer to their unique heritage that is unsung and still somewhat new in theory, as the truths of history do their slow unraveling of their yarns.

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